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Zen / Mahayana

The Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, of which Zen is an important expression (along with Chinese Chan and Korean Soen), arose sometime around the first century C.E. in South India and spread throughout Asia.  It is characterized by the ideal of the bodhisattva: the compassionate being whose desire for enlightenment isn’t an individual quest but includes all other sentient beings as well.

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  1. Straight to the Heart of Zen

    Straight to the Heart of Zen

    Eleven Classic Koans and Their Inner Meanings

    • by
    • Philip Kapleau
    Koans are at the very heart of Zen practice; this collection of informal koan talks will bring the Zen student into the presence of Roshi Philip Kapleau, the famous author of The Three Pillars of Zen . The talks in this collection came directly from the zendo (training hall) and from the intense form of practice known as sesshin, a Japanese word meaning "to train the mind."… Read More

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  2. The Gateless Barrier

    The Gateless Barrier

    Zen Comments on the Mumonkan

    • by
    • Zenkei Shibayama
    For more than seven centuries the Mumonkan has been used in Zen monasteries to train monks and to encourage the religious development of lay Buddhists. It contains forty- eight koans, or spiritual riddles, that must be explored during the course of Zen training. Shibayama Zenkei (1894-1974), an influential Japanese Zen teacher and calligrapher who traveled and lectured throughout the United States in the 60s and 70s, offers… Read More

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  3. The Awakening of Zen

    The Awakening of Zen

    • by
    • D. T. Suzuki
    This collection of essays and lectures by D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) covers a wide range, from Mahayana Buddhism generally and the Zen school in particular, to Japanese art and culture, to the relationship between Zen Buddhism and Western psychology. Suzuki, whose work has had a profound and lasting influence, communicates his insights clearly and energetically. The clarity of his presentation makes The Awakening of Zen a book for… Read More

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  4. Enlightenment Unfolds

    Enlightenment Unfolds

    The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen

    • edited by
    • Kazuaki Tanahashi
    Enlightenment Unfolds is a sequel to Kaz Tanahashi's previous collection, Moon in a Dewdrop, which has become a primary source on Dogen for Western Zen students. Dogen Zenji (1200-1253) is unquestionably the most significant religious figure in Japanese history. Founder of the Soto school of Zen (which emphasizes the practice of zazen or sitting meditation), he was a prolific writer whose… Read More

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  5. You Have to Say Something

    You Have to Say Something

    Manifesting Zen Insight

    • by
    • Dainin Katagiri
    • edited by
    • Steve Hagen
    Dainin Katagiri (1928–1990) was a central figure in the transmission of Zen in America. His first book, Returning to Silence, emphasized the need to return to our original, enlightened state of being, and became one of the classics of Zen in America. In You Have to Say Something, selections from his talks have been collected to address another key theme of Katagiri's teaching: that of bringing… Read More

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  6. Nine-Headed Dragon River

    Nine-Headed Dragon River

    Zen Journals 1969-1982

    • by
    • Peter Matthiessen
    In August 1968, naturalist-explorer Peter Matthiessen returned from Africa to his home in Sagaponack, Long Island, to find three Zen masters in his driveway—guests of his wife, a new student of Zen. Thirteen years later, Matthiessen was ordained a Buddhist monk. Written in the same format as his best-selling The Snow Leopard, Nine-Headed Dragon River reveals Matthiessen's most daring adventure of all: the quest for his spiritual… Read More

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  7. The Five Houses of Zen

    The Five Houses of Zen

    For all its emphasis on the direct experience on insight without reliance on the products of the intellect, the Zen tradition has created a huge body of writings. Of this cast literature, the writings associated with the so-called Five Houses of Zen are widely considered to be preeminent. These Five Houses—which arose in China during the ninth and tenth centuries, often referred to as the Golden Age of Zen—were not… Read More

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  8. Kensho

    Kensho

    The Heart of Zen

    Kensho is the transformative glimpse of the true nature of all things. It is an experience so crucial in Zen practice that it is sometimes compared to finding an inexhaustible treasure because it reveals the potential that exists in each moment for pure awareness free from the projections of the ego. Among the traditional Zen works are a number of important texts focusing on the profound subtleties of this essential… Read More

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  9. Subtle Sound

    Subtle Sound

    The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart

    • edited by
    • Roko Sherry Chayat
    Maurine Stuart (1922–1990) was one of a select group of students on the leading edge of Buddhism in America: a woman who became a Zen master. In this book, she draws on down-to-earth Zen stories, her friendships with Japanese Zen teachers, and her experiences as a concert pianist to apply the inner meanings of Buddhism to practicing the basic ethics of daily living—nowness, unselfishness, compassion, and good will toward every… Read More

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  10. Flowers Fall
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